Known as the « science of sustainable agriculture, » agroecology is also a practice and a movement. For, Ricardo Salvador, Director of the Food and Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists agroecology is the « agriculture of the future. »
As a science, agroecology was originally developed by researchers who made careful ecological observations of traditional farming systems. These observations revealed that 1) traditional farming systems were not static but actually always changing and adjusting, and 2) that farmers around the world had developed highly sophisticated methods of managing and enhancing ecosystem functions in order to sustainably produce food, fiber, medicine and fuel. Some of these systems have been around for millennia.
A half-century of research and practice in the field of agroecology has yielded spectacular results for hundreds of thousands of small-scale farmers and many medium-to-large scale farmers around the world. Because it opens possibilities for grassroots food systems transformation, peasant movements for food sovereignty have embraced agroecology, as have many urban and organic farmers in the Global North. But despite its documented benefits, agroecology is still largely limited to localized experiences and a few, poorly funded university programs. The problem is systemic. The solution is social and political.